Do you need to speak French in France?

By justfrenchit | Oct 17, 2018
Europe > France

French is intimidating. I get it.

It is my native language, and even I have a hard time sometimes. Especially when it comes to grammar.

But, as a traveler to another, let me tell you something.

You don’t need to know much French to travel in France, but you need to know a bit.

BECAUSE French people’s English is terrible (mostly)

Outside of Paris (and even then), you’ll have a hard time finding someone to speak English to.

It can even be the case in hotel and other (supposedly) tourist friendly places.

Yeah, it’s a bummer, but I’m working on it.

(I’m teaching English to a few French people at a time, bah)

BUT, with a bare minimum, you’re set for success

Although, to make yourself understood you don’t need to know much.

Xim’s article covers the basics. And I’m going to be even more concise.

The very essentials

Keep in mind that French people are very into politeness. IT IS A THING.

Don’t expect to have an outstanding service if you haven’t greeted your waiter properly.

So please, if anything else, learn:

* Bonjour
* S'il vous plaît
* Aurevoir
* Merci
* Excusez-moi

A few sentence structures

Then, here’s my biggest tip. Learn a few sentence structures that you can modify with the vocabulary you already know.

Hell, it doesn’t even matter if it’s grammatically correct. What matters here is that you makes your intention clear

* Est-ce-que… (to ask a closed question - answer is yes or no)
* Est ce que je peux avoir du sel? (Can I have some salt?)
* Est ce que vous avez des timbres? (Do you have stamps?)
* Est ce qu’il y a une douche dans la chambre? (Is there a shower in the bedroom?)

* Où est… (to ask where something/someone is)
* Où sont les toilettes? (Where are the toilets?)
* Où est la gare? (Where is the station?)
* Où est le manager? (Where is the manager?)

* Je voudrais… (I would like)
* Je voudrais un verre d’eau, s’il vous plaît. (I would like a glass of water.)
* Je voudrais réserver une chambre. (I would like to book a room.)
* Je voudrais un ticket. (I would like a ticket.)

With those three structures, you’re set for LOADS of fun already.


Then it’s simple a matter of vocabulary.

HOT EXTRA TIP - Only learn the vocabulary you need. Are you going to buy a stamp? Or rent a car?

PLUS, it’d be a shame to miss out on the benefits

By far, the benefits of speaking a broken French outweigh the benefits of not speaking French at all.

I don’t know about you, but I’m far more receptive to people when they are making an effort to talk to me in my native language.


And I’m not thinking less of them if they don’t know how the French Subjonctif works.

Would you?

Europe France French Language Learning

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Written by justfrenchit
Bonjour there, I'm Marie and I have a passion for languages and travel. In fact, languages are my job. I teach them, I write about them, I learn them,... But what would languages be without a thirst to discover, am I right? Over the years, I've traveled extensively in the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. And a bit in Europe: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Corsica, Italy, Crete,... If you want to know more about me, you can find me on Just French It if you want to learn French. Et sur Lemons and Bananas si tu veux apprendre l'anglais.

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